A lot of beginner bloggers are confused about blog comments, they often wonder if they should allow them or simply disable them entirely. A lot of people tend to leave blog comments on as it shows that the page has engagement from the users, which is true but this also depends on the niche. There are certain niches where comments actually play a massive role in the website’s ranking.
Yes, you should disable comments as most of them are spam, they slow down your website, they contain low-quality outbound links, they can pass google penalties, it takes a lot of time to manage them, comment bots will constantly visit your website, they negatively affect your rankings, you might help your competitors to rank with your website, comments without links can be also harmful and even 3rd party blog comment plugins slow down your website.
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Websites that focus on niches which are thin content by default tend to allow comments, the best example for this is recipe and coupon websites. Most recipe websites offer the same recipes with very little deviation from the original recipe, this gives Google an extremely hard time identifying which recipe website to rank as all of them will have more or less the same content. This is why some recipe websites include some stories in addition to the recipe.
While others open up the comments and allow others to rate and comment on the recipe. In this case, they have to allow comments as they will rank better because Google will take the comments into consideration as well when determining the website’s rank. On the other hand, if you have a simple blog like mine then there is simply no reason why you should keep comments on as they do not give you any benefit.
The only notable thing which comments offer is that they show Google that the page has engagement, but the truth is that if you have a high-quality website than google already knows that the posts have engagement with the time on page and the bounce metrics. Some people think that blog comments are just free content, the truth is that Google doesn’t take into consideration the comments like they are part of the article, and more often than not the comments are just spam. If you want to know how blog comments affect SEO than check out my recent article Do blog comments help SEO? ( Top 10 Reasons ).
The main reason why you should disable comments is because of spam, even new websites which do not get any traffic will get a significant number of comment spam. There are a lot of bots which scrape the internet and a lot of them are comment bots, these bots come to your website and they will try to post a comment with a link in it, thus making themselves a blog comment link. They do this for SEO and for traffic purposes, and more often than not these spam comments are irrelevant to your actual content.
The more successful your website is the more spam comments you will have, and if you allow the comments without any moderation than you will be flooded with spam. Some spammers will not include a link the first couple of times they comment on your website, only to later edit their comment and place a backlink, and most of the time you won’t even notice. If you have a brand new website and you are wondering when you should start building backlinks than check out my recent article When to start building links? ( Top 6 Criteria ).
Slows down website
Comments do actually slow down your website, the more you have the slower the page will load. The problem is not with the actual comments but with the links which they contain, although having thousands of comments without links will still slow down your website. If you are using the default WordPress comment system than the icons and emoticons also will slow down your website.
This is because these icons and emoticons are not optimized for speed, and oftentimes they contain a lot of bloat which you do not need. If your website is not using lazy load which progressively loads content and images than once a user comes to your post it will have to wait until all the content on your site is loaded before they can engage with the content. This can take several seconds and if the user doesn’t have the best internet connection then it will take even longer, thus increasing the chances of them simply bouncing off your website.
Low-quality outbound links
Google not only looks at which websites are linking back to you, but they also look at which websites you are linking as well. This is why it is extremely important to only link to high-quality websites, otherwise, your trust score in google’s eyes will be lower. Google will not trust you if you link to some low-quality website which might be penalized already. If you have blog comments on by default then you will have hundreds of outbound links, and as I have said before most of them will be spam.
Although Google doesn’t really care about the content of the comments, but it definitely cares about the links which these comments may have. If you have hundreds of comments which also contain links than google might even think that your website has been abandoned. If you want more information about low OBL links than check out my recent article What are low OBL links? ( Where to get them? ).
Comments can pass google penalties
Comments with links can pass penalties, which means that if you are linking back to a website that is penalized then you might get a penalty as well. Although if you are only linking once or twice to a penalized website than the odds of this happening are fairly low. On the other hand, if you have hundreds or thousands of comments than odds are that you have been linking back to the same websites multiple times.
If your website is about survival and you have outbound links to websites that are selling fashion accessories than it will look odd to google. The problem is that most of these comment backlinks will contain links to fraudulent and even scam websites, which you should definitely avoid.
Too much work
In the first couple of months while you are building the content for your blog you will have the occasional comment, although it is most likely spam. At this time you will be able to manually approve the comments which you do consider to be real and niche relevant. Once your website will start getting some significant traffic then you will notice that the number of comments which you get daily will increase significantly.
At that point, you will either spend a lot of time approving and deleting spam comments or you will simply disable them. My personal recommendation is to not waste your time on approving comments as you will see that 99% of the comments are from bots.
Bots crawling your website
Bots, spiders, and crawlers will constantly access your website some are good as the google bot, however, there are a lot of harmful bots that also scan your website for vulnerabilities and if they can place a comment or a backlink. Comment bots will look for the comment field, once they have found it they will make a comment. It doesn’t even matter if you have disabled the comments they will still make comments.
The higher your website ranks the more comment bots will access your website, and this will definitely slow down your website, even if you have set the comments to be manually approved. There are a couple of blog comment related plugins which you can use, and some of them will also delete the comment field, which I do highly recommend. Once a comment bot comes to your website and it can’t find the comment field then it will simply bounce off your website.
You might help your competitors to rank with your website
This is an extremely common tactic used by some blackhat SEO’s, what they tend to do is to identify their competitors and they will try to get backlinks from them with blog comments. Once they have a couple of backlinks from you then google will take notice and see that you are actually linking to your competitors, which in google’s mind means that you trust your competitor and that is why you are linking back to them.
Negative effects on ranking
Your main goal as a blogger is to rank for your target keywords, ranking nowadays even for low competition keywords is fairly difficult, and you are not making your job easier if you allow blog comments on your website. Speed is one of the most important factors when it comes to ranking, and blog comments will only slow down your website. In addition to this if the blog comments are linking back to penalized or low-quality websites than this will also impact your rankings.
The SEO rules are not the same for everybody, if you take a look at the site speed of CNN for example then you will see that it is extremely bad especially on mobile devices yet they still rank extremely well. They can have such a slow loading website because they have authority, but as your website doesn’t have any authority than you have to focus on speed.
Comments without backlinks can still be harmful
Just because a comment doesn’t have a backlink that doesn’t mean that they can not have a negative impact on your website. Most often you will get comments which are irrelevant to your niche, but sometimes these comments are made for branding. Just look at your comments and you will notice that some include a certain name of some tool or website, trying to trick people into writing their brand name into Google and getting traffic that way.
3rd party blog comment plugins
There are a couple of 3rd party blog comment plugins that some sites are using, the most popular one is Disqus. Generally speaking, it is harder for bots to make backlinks with these 3rd party comment plugins, although most of them come with a massive problem which is speed. These comment plugins will slow down your website, the more comments you have the slower your website will be.
In some cases, if the server for the 3rd party blog comment plugin is down and you do not use lazy load than your website will never fully load for the user, which is a bad sign. If a user bounces off your website even with the article fully loaded but the comments are not loading than google will think that the person has bounced off because your article is low quality.
As you can see there are a lot of drawbacks to using comments, I personally do not bother with them and I even disable the comment fields, so comment bots will simply bounce off my website as soon as they can’t find the comment field.